Wikipedia talk:Submission Standards

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Length of policy[edit]

Kind of long for a boilerplate, eh? -戴&#30505sv 20:20, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)

The problem is that it needs to be comprehensive regarding the relationship someone enters into with Wikipedia before they enter into it, sort of like Terms of Use or Terms of Service (or just Terms) as found on most web sites.

Actually if you look at most of these user agreements they are quite long, this one is much shorter. Alex756 21:43, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)

This one is, by comparison, actually extremely short and readable. What do you think about adding a short sentence in (under the heading "Not in violation of any law") about not threatening anyone with any form of violence. Or maybe there should be a seperate short section for discussion pages, as this is likely to pretty much only affect discussion pages? WDYT? --snoyes 04:05, 23 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Good suggestion, I've added a sentence about it. WDYT? — Alex756 05:26, 7 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Thanks, the sentence looks good. The inclusion is IMHO necessary considering the heatedness in which discussion is sometimes engaged in. --snoyes 05:32, 7 Jan 2004 (UTC)
It certainly brings home the idea of what we mean by "in violation of any law". — Alex756 05:40, 7 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Oh. I am usually a quite person, but looking at this unprintable stuff makes me think whether I should seriously condider a question of naming things by what some people (including but not limited to me) may (or may not and this is your liability in taking a decision whether this particular act of naming occurs or not) call their names. Unprintable unprintable laws, but are we unprintably obligated to keep track of all these unprintable questions? I started with laughing at

[if you] are unable to give consent because someone is forcing you to make a contribution here under duress we ask you to consider your actions

then I frowned at

All arbitration decisions are final and may not be appealed to any court

and then I got to

You hereby irrevocably appoint Wikimedia Foundation Inc., or any of its duly authorized agents to act as your copyright compliance officer and to send any takedown or cease and desist notices as authorized under § 512 of Title 17 of the United States Code (also known as the OCILLA provisions of the DMCA) should the any of your original contributions be copied in violation of the GFDL license. Any such agent shall be indemnified by you as long as they have a good faith basis for issuing such notice and that said agent makes the statutory certification under penalty of perjury as required under §512.

and I give up. I don't understand it. I will try to get the point but right now I can't write about my opinion, I feel completely dumb. I return to my mathematics and theoretical physics problems. ilya 06:17, 7 Jan 2004 (UTC)

It is good to laugh at legal texts, and it is true that sometimes they are harder to understand than mathematical equations, and full of paradox (such as the statement that a person under duress should consider their actions) but the fact is that people are bound by legal terms and do we really want Wikipedia disputes to end up in a court on the whim of a troll? — Alex756 17:53, 16 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Ilya, here's the simple version: If you license your parents to use your contributions freely, with no restrictions at all, you authorize the Wikipedia to take action against them for infringing the GFDL and agree to pay the Wikipedia its legal fees for doing it. Even though you granted them a license broader than the GFDL. Similarly, once you've granted the Wikipedia a GFDL license, you can't license the same work to anyone else under any other license without risking the Wikipedia taking baseless GFDL infringement action against them. If you grant or may want to grant anyone a non-GFDL license, you need to either opt out of the enforcement clause or not contribute that work to the Wikipedia. Jamesday 03:02, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Copyright compliance officer[edit]

I'm not clear on the implications of this. If I appoint Wikimedia to this role, may I still chase copyright infringements on my own if I choose to? IE, is this a "non-exclusive" appointment? Martin

Generally speaking one can appoint many agents for the same purpose unless the agency agreement is "exclusive". This is a practical example: you go to employment agent A and are sent to job interviews; the next day you go to employment agent B and go to more job interviews. You are the principal for the first employment agent for the jobs she introduces you to and the principal of the second agent for the jobs he introduces you to. Of course if you have several agents they might introduce you to the same job and if you take it they might both ask you for a commission and depending on the agreement with each agent you might have to pay both of them a commission, they can both be your agent. As well, you can find your own job and not pay any commission. I put this in so that if there are infringements then anyone from Wikipedia can stop the infringements, but the authors are free to do this too. To make it clearer I've added the term non-exclusive to end any doubt. — Alex756 04:22, 11 Jan 2004 (UTC)

What still needs to be done?[edit]

I've read this and think it is well-written as-in and can be fine tuned after a link to it is added to edit windows. What, if anything is still needed before we do that? There is the MediaWiki page that would get edited: MediaWiki:Copyrightwarning. I'm not sure if wiki or HTML links work on that page. --mav 05:13, 12 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I've moved this to a new name without the proposal at the end. How do we add it as a link on the copyrightwarning page? Perhaps the text that could be added is:
"By clicking "save page" you agree to Wikipedia:Submission Standards and affirm that you submission does not violate those terms."
Does that work? — Alex756 17:49, 16 Jan 2004 (UTC)
It works for me, but MediaWiki:Copyrightwarning needs HTML. This will work <a href="">Wikipedia:Submission Standards</a> . I've already tested this on Meta at meta:MediaWiki:Copyrightwarning. Now I think we should take this to WikiEN-l and propose to have the new line go live on Tuesday the 20th. That should give people enough time to propose any changes and/or clarifications. --mav

That timeline sounds reasonable to me. — Alex756 06:14, 17 Jan 2004 (UTC)

OK, I sent the email. [1] One minor mod; I said Wednesday 21 January instead of Tuedsay. Monday is a holiday for much of the U.S. and I sent the email a day after I suggested Tuesday. --mav

Defamatory statements[edit]

I'm no expert on the law in this area, but I'm a bit confused by:

Defamatory statements include statements that may change a person's or company's reputation causing them damage.

I'd expect users should be allowed to make such statements if they are true, for example discussing the Exxon-Valdez oil spill or the Iran-Contra affair. Should "include statements" be changed to "include false statements" (or "include false or unsubstantiated statements", or similar) to reflect this? --Delirium 07:00, Jan 18, 2004 (UTC)

That was a bug, now fixed. --mav 07:50, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)

It's a good thing people don't read legal notices[edit]

It's a good thing people don't read legal notices, expecially those that have to be clicked to get to, for if they did, anyone with brains enough to understand them would stop contributing. Exactly what problem is it that we're solving by linking to this? Expressing our faith that publishing our archives isn't publishing? Expressing our wish about this won't make the courts parse it our way. Altogether too scary and probably useless. "You can help us write an encyclopedia IF you agree to suffer the penalties of perjury added on to whatever else you may suffer by your own actions. Wikipedia will not be responsible for what you write and will render you no assistance. You must agree to a "contract" in which you receive NO CONSIDERATION and yet is presented as binding, and in which you give Wikipedia the right to your words, and Wikipedia gives you nothing. Altogether, this does not sound like a good deal for the editor, and it sounds like an unnecessary and selfdestructive mofe for WIkipedia. Conscientious people don't need the legal fear of God thrown uponthem, and the unconscnientious will itnore it. _--Binky 07:20, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)

This is needed to protect the project and its law-abiding users against lawsuits aimed at people who post illegal material. It would also give the force of law to our mediation and arbitration procedures and states up front what the legal obligations of contributors are and the extent to which Wikipedia and Wikimedia can offer them protection. All good things if you ask me. So unless you want to either 1) break the law by posting illegal material here or 2) break our policies, this page, if linked from every edit window, will help to protect you. --mav 07:47, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Laudable aims, but I don't think it ACTUALLY does those things. We don't need the users indemnification against copyright violations: we have a law that indemnifies Wikipedia if we follow Digital Millennium Copyright rules. And what our (eventual) mediation and arbitration procedures require is not the "force of law" but the will and means to carry out their decisions -- †he technical means, especially, are lacking. These standards do nothing for attaining those means, and ask users instead to give up their rights for the "privilege" of contributing. (or indeed, reading). It is the sort of disclaimer that makes lawyers feel good and good people feel bad, and will have negligible legal effect, while a probably more substantial negative effect on contributions. -- Binky 08:17, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)
I really doubt that. There are reasons legal notices like this are liked by lawyers - it makes it clear, from the start, of what everybody's legal rights and obligations are. That makes future claims against the project, the foundation or innocent users, much more difficult. Let's see what others have to say. --mav
  1. How can someone say that Wikipedia does not give consideration. What Wikipedia gives is the opportunity to make a contribution. This is much more than a "grain of mustard seed" if you know what I mean. Where else can you go and have your typos and poorly written sentences edited and re-edited for free by people all over the world there is plenty of CONSIDERATION (sorry for shouting, but I am just replying to someone who started shouting).
  2. These are not something that is just being made up, many of these things in this notice are being discussed on talk pages and on the mailing lists. This is an attempt to codify these ideas in one place so people don't have to read hundreds, or perhaps thousands of talk pages before they are aware of what is going on here. As an example see: Wikipedia:Copyright violations on history pages.
  3. The indemnification clause is primarily about copyright violations, — it has more to do with libel and privacy problems that could occur outside the United States. If Wikipedia gets drawn into a lawsuit in a foreign country and some judge is considering taking away all of Wikipedia's servers and savings why shouldn't Wikipedia benefit from an indemnification if some user decides to use Wikipedia as her/his platform to defame someone? (And foreign judgments can be enforceable in the US under such situations without the proper legal safeguards). Why sould Wikipedia be responsible if someone is trying to use Wikipedia to damage someone's reputation, shouldn't that person have to pay for the damage that they have caused Wikipedia? Should users have the right to destroy that which thousands of people over many years have contributed to create? What about the rights of those other users?
  4. What rights are users giving up? I'd like an answer to that question rather than just an assertion that users have rights. This actually makes it clearer what the ambit of user rights actually are. I can't see how stating the terms for contributions could do anything but increase the quality of submissions. This is just protecting us against cranks, vandals and individuals who are trying to misuse Wikipedia.
— Alex756 02:54, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Wikipedia's "consideration" is not unlike that given by Tom Sawyer to those who would paint the fence for him. That others may come by and repaint it, or that it is on display, is not a benefit to the contributor, it's a benefit for Wikipedia. Phrasing what Wikipedia wants of its contributors as a contract is a bad idea: it would discourage contributions from rational contributors, who have no reason to sign a contract like this.
As for rights given up by signing such a contract, I'd put "not being prosecuted for perjury" and "not agreeing to pay Wikipedia's legal fees" at the top of the list. -- Binky 02:57, 20 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Sorry, but you are clearly wrong here since a contract already exists between Wikipedia and anybody who submits an edit: In return for submitting the edit, Wikipedia will instantly publish that edit under the explicit conditions that it will be edited mercifully, redistributed at will and covered under the GNU FDL The person submitting the edit also explicitly promises that the edit does not contain a copyright infringement. Implicit in that contract is that the person submit to the other documented rules and policies of the websites. Having a link to the submission standards just spells that out instead of requiring the person submitting the edit to look far and wide for all this info (which is spread over many Wikipedia namespace pages, Meta, the mailing lists, and plain old common practice. --mav 04:29, 20 Jan 2004 (UTC)
You may think it's a contract, but it wouldn't be so clear cut in an actual lawsuit. We'd be much better off simply outlining the rules of submission and the rules of expected behavior (what Wikipedia expects of its editors, and that it promises nothing in return) than trying to suggest that unpaid editors have a contractual agreement with Wikipedia. Everything Wikipedia needs from the editors is already on the edit submission page: a release under the GNU FDL and a promise that it's not a copyright violation. Using a "Submission Standards" page to outline a specific legal theory about our archives (that they're unpublished, even though we're publishing them on the Internet, and that history pages are unavailable under the GFDL) is unwise and unnecessary. If we need an appointment of Wikipedia to enforce GNU FDL rules on our behalf (I'm not clear we do) it would be better off on the edit submission page. This page is a bad idea, the sort of thing "policy mavens" love but which does nothing for us, other than alienate possible contributors (except that we're concealing it in a link so it won't alienate them). I'd like to see some sort of indication that the implementation of this page has the support of the entire Wikipedia community before it occurs. I suppose it might be favored by the consensus of users, but that would surprise me: I suspect there would be more opposition to its implementation were it more widely known. -- Binky 05:51, 20 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Such comments as "it would be much better if we simply outline the rules of sumission and expected behavior" puzzle me because that is what we are doing here. Telling someone that it is a contract is just giving them information about what is going in. The fact of the matter is that the only thing that is really new here is the indemnification, and once again that is just to protect Wikipedia against people who are trying to use Wikipedia to break the law. Why shouldn't they want to pay Wikipedia's legal fees if they get the chance to broadcast their comments through the Wikipedia platform? Saying that Wikipedia gives nothing to contributors is really insulting, too, BTW; no one is painting fences here, we are all authors getting our works published on a collaborative open format, I'm sure even Mark Twain would find that valid consideration to form the basis of a contract. — Alex756 21:23, 21 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Laying out the rules is very much different from forcing someone to sign a statement agreeing to the rules as a pre-condition of contributing. If Wikipedia gets sued as a result of someone's comment, it can sue that person for its legal fees, which it may or may not get: that's a statement of fact. It's rather a different thing for that person to agree to pay them in advance. As for insulting, I think the suggestion that Wikipedia is the equivalent of a "vanity press" in which people exchange "consideration" for the "privilege" of being published is far more insulting, both to Wikipedia and to those who are its authors. We should ask for no more than we need: a release under the GFDL. To ask for more is insulting. And yes, we ARE painting a fence, and no one's getting paid. The list of demands you suggest we should make might be suitable for a work-for-hire or for a negotiated contract, but they are odious for what is supposed to be a communal venture. - Binky 00:07, 22 Jan 2004 (UTC) (P.S. You can bet Mark Twain didn't "give it away" to publishers: his contracts included getting paid...though he in the end lost a lot of money by being plagiarized)

I must say I don't really like the phrasing as a contract either. I think a better approach would be "these are the rules we have laid out for the use of our website, and if you do not follow the rules, we will terminate your ability to participate here". They don't have to agree to the rules, since we own the servers. --Delirium 00:33, Jan 22, 2004 (UTC)

I hate to tell you guys if you call it a contract or not it is still a contract. When you buy a loaf of bread that is a contract. When you log onto your ISP you are bound by all kinds of terms and conditions. These are formed by your contractual relation with the ISP. Any site you log onto has terms and conditions. Remember that the GFDL is a contract, a license is a contract; do yo want to remove the word license from GFDL, then what do we call it the GFD? It is silly to suggest that it is not a contract if we do not use that word. What is wrong with laying ground rules that include protecting the organization that we are all contributing to. You don't care about people taking advantage of the Wikipedia forum? I find this to be a very ignorant approach to what Wikipedia is and what it is possible to do with it. People can redistribute it, it can be copied all over the world, it is not a vanity press it is an intensive collaborative community of creative authors from around the world creating the largest knowledge base that may ever exist. Don't demean the project by suggesting it is less than it is. 99% of the contributors will not ever have to worry about any of these submission standards, it is just for cranks who want to use Wikipedia to create legal problems. You are yelling fire in a crowded theatre if you think that these submission standards are doing anything more than protecting Wikipedia from people who would use it for a vanity press. "If you don't follow the rules, then we will terminate your access" is also a unilateral contract, so stating that makes a contract even if you don't call it a contract. The fact of the matter is that when responsible people act their actions have consequences. These indemnification terms are to prevent us from suffering the consequences of those who do not consider the consequences of their actions. It does not prevent anyone from contributing valid knowledge to Wikipedia. — Alex756 04:46, 22 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I'm not a crank, and I'm not interested in breaking any rules, yet the hostile nature of the language in the proposed "Submission Standards" would certainly would prevent me from contributing valid knowledge to Wikipedia. This page should list (1) what we want, and (2) what we don't want, and stop trying to be a lawyer's wish-list of concessions from users. Said users receive no benefit from their concessions: why should they make them? Besides the problematic nature of a contract to which consent is "assumed", the notion of a contractual relationship between "Wikipedia" and its users is a fundamental shift in paradigm. On whose authority does Wikipedia agree to such a contract? How does Wikipedia propose to enforce it? How does Wikipedia propose to keep track of those who have agreed to it? How does it propose to show there was a meeting of the minds between Wikipedia and an anonymous IP address when there's no way of showing that IP address ever read the supposed contract? This is a fundamentally flawed idea. - Binky 05:20, 22 Jan 2004 (UTC)~
Blinky - simply saying there is no contract and insisting that users don't get any benefit from contributing here, simply does not make it so. Why then do people contribute? I contribute because it if fun to work with intelligent and people from around the world in creating a wonderful thing. I'm proud of my work here and of the project. That is a clear benefit for me, and my content is what I give in order to receive that benefit. That is a contract (you may want to read that article).
As a matter of fact the great majority of contracts are not in writing. However, putting things in writing makes it clear to both parties to a contract what the terms of their contractual relationship is. This is useful if one party files a complaint against the other party for some breach of contract. In the absence of a written contract the matter would be a case of he said, she said. Also having a written contract beforehand will tend to greatly reduce confusion as to what the expected terms of the contract are - that in turn reduces the possibility of litigation, and, as a if it does come to litigation and Wikipedia performed is part of the contract, we could just point to the terms that the user agreed to.
Alex has already proven that a contract exists and that users get the benefit of publication, maintenance and distribution. Having those linked from the edit window simply informs all editors of what those standards are. Hiding them would be a disservice to all editors who are editing in good faith and to the project itself. This page aims to protect valid users and the project. --mav 09:17, 22 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Alex has claimed the writer gives up nothing and loses nothing by "signing" this purported contract, which is simply not true: Wikipedia wants this agreement exactly because the writer gives up several options. And if it were a contract, you need to have some way of marking both parties's assent, which at the very least means a box the submitter must check at the start of each logged in lession or before each edit is submitted. I don't propose that any standards be hidden: what I propose is that the standards be Wikipedia's standard, to be enforced by Wikipedia, rather than an agreement by the user to the standards, followed by the invocation of lawsuits. The wikipedia edit submission page gets an agreement that the words are not encumbered by any copyright other than the author's and that the author releases them under GDFL. That's all we need. It's noxious to also ask that the author [1] make himself subject to penalties of perjury, make himself liable for the reimbursement of Wikipedia without due process, and forfeit the right to choose what court system any suit would be tried in. It's unnecessary, would require litigation in any case, which litigation would not be particularly aided by the verbiage here which would only obstensively have been agreed to.
When a man has a hammer, every problem is a nail. When a lawyer sees a problem , he thinks legal verbage is going to make it better. But what we need is a way to make or encourage people behave, not a way to cudgel them into submission or to have easier lawsuits after they misbehave. The less law-talk here, the better: the less options that must be sacrificed by the (largely cooperative and well-intentioned) users, the closer we are to having what we need. And finally, I again reject Alex's assertion that Wikipedia is a service to its writers: rather the writer/editor is providing a service to Wikipedia. Nowhere in this purported contract do I find any mention of Wikipedia's obligations to the writer/editor: there is no mutual obligation to perform: there is no consideration for the writer/editor: there is no contract, and there shouldn't be one either. There should be a set of rules, with a failure to follow those rules losing you access to wikipedia. And that should be that. And it should be written in English, not legal jargon. -- Binky 10:21, 22 Jan 2004 (UTC)
We've already proven there is a contract - no amount of verbiage from you is going to change that. We have already explained what Wikipedia gets and what the user gets and what the obligations of Wikipedia are and what the obligations of users are in this relationship. I will simply not continue to argue this point with you because you are 100% wrong. Consult a lawyer if you like. But if the prose on this page is too legalistic, then lend a hand to help us improve it. --mav
A start towards this was (and is) at the bottom of this page - Binky 00:18, 23 Jan 2004 (UTC) (And the assertion of Alex's theory that there's a contract won't be "proved" till it's defended in a court of law, and it's a completely unnecessary theory that we shouldn't, and don't need to, rely on.) -- Binky 00:18, 23 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I don't think anyone has "proven" that there is a contract. You have argued that there is a contract. Whether this is true, and moreover whether it's the sort of contract a court will be willing to recognize and enforce, is yet to be seen. There are plenty of purported "implied contracts" that are ruled unenforceable by courts. In any case, I don't think it's in our best interests to require the users to agree to a contract to post here. I think instead it would be better to simply give them notice of the sort of behavior we won't tolerate, and act accordingly. Sort of like how if you cause a ruckus in your local bar, they don't throw you out because you violated a contract—they throw you out because they don't want you there, and since they own the place, they can kick out whoever they want. Similarly, the Wikimedia foundation can kick out whoever it wants, whether the kickee agrees to a contract saying so or not, by virtue of the fact that we own the servers. --Delirium 20:51, Jan 22, 2004 (UTC)

For the love of Frank! Every single time you hit save you are completing your part of a transaction. When Wikipedia posts that edit Wikipedia has completed its part of a transaction. Both parties get something in the transaction: Wikipedia gets content and the user gets their content published. That makes it a contact no matter how you look at it - it will most certainly stand up in court. Our current set-up is primarily an implied contract model where the only express contract is this:
Please note that all contributions to Wikipedia are considered to be released under the GNU Free Documentation License (see Wikipedia:Copyrights for details). If you don't want your writing to be edited mercilessly and redistributed at will, then don't submit it here. You are also promising us that you wrote this yourself, or copied it from a public domain or similar free resource. DO NOT SUBMIT COPYRIGHTED WORK WITHOUT PERMISSION!
With the user implying they agree to our other policies by the act of contributing. However, implied contracts aren't that great because their terms are fuzzy and open to interpretation. That creates a big hole that a lawyer of a person who wanted to do Wikipedia harm could drive an SUV through. Thus the need to codify the most important parts of the already existing implied contract into an express one. Enter the submission standards linked from edit windows. The knee-jerk reaction I often see from people when the word ?contract? is mentioned is truly bizarre and unnecessary. As Alex said when you buy a loaf of bread you have completed a contract. Any first year law student knows that. -- mav 07:00, 23 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Not all agreements are contracts. Every first year law student ought to know that. A release of one's writing under the GDFL is not a contract: it is unilateral, and it involves no compensation. After someone submits writing to Wikipedia, the relationship of Wikipedia and author/writer/editor is over. Wikipedia owes no future duties to the author/writer/editor, and the author/writer/editor owes nothing to Wikipedia. Nor has the author/editor/writer surrendered any rights to Wikipedia: he's granted rights under the GFDL to all who abide by it, not just Wikipedia. You propose to change that, and I think that the changing of that relationship is a very bad idea. You implacably believe that writers and Wikipedia already have a contract: believe that if you must. But if so, it is a contract that [1] makes no promises about the future behavior of Wikipedia, and [2] makes no promises about the future behavior of Wikipedia's editors. And that's the way it should remain. -- Binky 18:21, 23 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Look up the definition of contract: Wikipedia promises to instantly publish material by a submitter and expose that material to further refinement and distribution. The editor promises that his/her text is not a copyright violation and to release their work under terms of the GNU FDL. The consideration Wikipedia obtains is the chance to use that content. The consideration the editor gets is that their text will be instantly published and open to copyediting and world-wide distribution. Both promise something and both get consideration. Ergo a contract exists. But that is only part of the contract (see above about implied contracts). The submission standards benefit the user by spelling out - in one convenient place - what the terms of the contract is. a written contract benefits every entity working in good faith. Oh, and unilateral contracts do exist and are common and is also the type of contract we have here. Look that up too. --mav

Oh, BTW from the above cite (bullet points are mine): The existence of a contract requires finding the following factual elements:

a) an offer;
  • Edit this page
b) an acceptance of that offer which results in a meeting of the minds;
  • Enter the edit window
c) a promise to perform;
  • If you save this page it will be posted immediately
d) a valuable consideration (which can be a promise or payment in some form);
  • Already dealt with in my above post
e) a time or event when performance must be made (meet commitments);
  • Right now
f) terms and conditions for performance, including fulfilling promises;
  • Edit window notice and our policy pages; more above
g) performance, if the contract is "unilateral".
  • Saving the page (for the user) and publishing it (for Wikipedia)

I have proven my case, so I am done arguing with you Blinky. -- mav 02:53, 24 Jan 2004 (UTC)

    • OK, but Wikipedia does not promise (C) (and shouldn't, unless it wants to be liable for softwares screwups that botch postings, and (D) is still lacking. - Binky 06:26, 24 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Whew, mav, have you thought of going to dental school? This discussion should become some kind of standard about debating a topic to death. — Alex756 [ talk] 02:12, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

  • Charming edit summary Alex. May Wikipedia fare well under your tutelege. - Binky 02:22, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Tank you Bink, couldn't have said it without your help -) — Alex756 [ talk] 07:03, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Appointment of Wikimedia as your non-exclusive agent for copyright compliance[edit]

I object to this in its current form. I have no interest at all in going after places which merely aren't in full compliance with the GFDL, potentially based on the views of the most anti-freedom to use (copyleft opposes freedom to use) people here. This needs to be done via specific permissions for specific types of GFDL non-compliance, since not close to everyone here likes the GFDL or wants it all enforced. Easy enough to track via category tags on user pages. For myself, I just added to my user page a grant of license to anyone the Wikipedia sends a DMCA takedown notice to, provided they link to the Wikipedia. Jamesday 12:21, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Yes, I was wondering if it made more sense to make the copyright agent appointment revocable, or even an entirely seperate opt-in process. If it was seperate and opt-in, that'd also reduce what we demand upon submission, which would be helpful. Martin 21:29, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)
It should nonetheless be default. Otherwise it would be difficult to go after people who are using our content in a non-free way. An opt-out clause would be good - I'll add it. Oh and JamesDay, a link to the Wikipedia article and GFDL notice and link is all that we require. Not much to ask. ---mav 02:22, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Are you sure that we can not already send a § 512 takedown notice under the current situation? I think it is perfectly acceptable to do so. There is nothing in the DCMA that says one must be the original author to do it, just someone authorized and Wikipedia is authorized to release the work under the GFDL exclusively, therefore Wikipedia holds an "exclusive right" over the works as submitted. As well, as Wikipedia is a collective activity there is an argument that anyone who contributes on Wikipedia could police the copyright of the collective (resistance is futile). That is what is sort of happening already on the Wikipedia:sites that use Wikipedia content page. No one is complaining when volunteers go out and tell non-compliant users that they should comply with the GFDL. There is nothing in the DMCA that says we cannot make sure that the license grant to Wikipedia is enforced. After all Wikipedia has the GFDL right to distribute the text, if it cannot enforce that right then Wikipedia has no copyright license. No?
Hm. Yeah I remember about the compilation copyright thing and how Wikipedia/Wikimedia owns that. But that only really applies to people who copy a very large part of our database, no? Please take out the opt-out clause if you think it is useless (I would rather it not be there anyway). --mav 03:38, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Given the way the RIAA is acting the Wikipedia could send out DMCA takedown notices now and do better than they do at being accurate. How do you envisioning a contributor indemnifying the agent for a night in jail? Is indemnify supposed to include financial indemnification for the costs of taking legal action? Mav, the Wikipedia name does the job as far as I'm concerned. So long as either one or the other is there, I'm happy. If we aren't better known for meaning reusable content than the initials GFDL already, we soon will be, IMO. At the moment, though, the assignment grants the Wikipedia license to enforce ANY GFDL term, not just the ones you mention. I'd opt out just because I don't want to grant anyone a license to enforce GFDL minutae in the future - I want the work to stay free, not get tied up in hard to comply with detais. I'd be considerably happier if it limited the right to only enforcing the rights you gave. Jamesday 02:50, 22 Jan 2004 (UTC)
The comment "indemnifying an agent for a night in jail" just does not make any sense. People rely upon the affirmations of others all the time, that does not mean if the first person stated a falsehood that the second person will be held liable for that falsehood as having committed a crime unless they also were aware of the falsehood. So I really don't know what that comment is about. When you say "I don't want to grant anyone a license to enforce GFDL" you state that you are refusing to release your content under the GFDL? That means you should not contribute to Wikipedia, that seems the common sense plain meaning of that statement. — Alex756 04:35, 22 Jan 2004 (UTC)
What indemnification do you have in mind? Will contributors get a bill for legal fees for the cost of bringing the action? Indemnification covers a lot of ground. I've notified the Wikipedia, via the opt out page, that I have granted licenses for some contributions which do not require those covered by those licenses to follow GFDL terms. Do you agree that it is now impossible to have a good faith belief that that my contributions are covered exclusively by the GFDL unless it is verified with me that the other party does not have a valid alternative license? Jamesday 02:51, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Please note that if you do opt out that Wikipedia may still be able to enforce that right you have granted to Wikipedia to release your work exclusively under the GFDL as this license is a limited grant of copyright to Wikipedia to redistribute your work only under the GFDL and thus Wikipedia may demand compliance with the GFDL license granted to Wikipedia or ask that the materials be removed under the these internet takedown provisions.

I've published items elsewhere prior to here and have granted the message board operators and their hosting company the right to distribute in any format in perpetuity. I've contributed similar content at other wiki encyclopedias and will do more of that. How can I revoke the rights I've granted others so I can grant the Wikipedia the privilege in that paragraph? The copyright compliance opt-out has to either be absolute or needs to be sufficiently fine-grained that contributors can accurately indicate the other licenses under which they have released their works. Otherwise it prohibits contributors from using other licences, even CCs copyleft license. In effect, this says that contributors may only license to anyone under the GFDL, effectively denying them the rights to their work. Jamesday 02:50, 22 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I am not convinced that "opting out" of allowing Wikipedia to do compliance under the GFDL is in violation of the GFDL and therefore void. I originally put this in to make it clear that it could be done, not to suggest it was something ou could opt out of. I think it is important to understand that while you release your work on Wikipedia under the GFDL you still retain full copyright to your work. There is not "grant" of full ownership, only the grant of a perpetual license that allows redistribution. If you want to put your work in the PD or also release it through some CC license, that is not in violation of WPs rights. What is in violation of WPs rights is saying that WP cannot police its own copyright. This happens in book publishing, music and elsewhere all the time, why is there this "urban myth" on Wikipedia that only the author can police their copyright. — Alex756 04:35, 22 Jan 2004 (UTC)
But if the work is placed in the public domain, Wikipedia has no copyright, because the work is not copyrighted. Wikipedia can only go after violations of works that are licensed under the GFDL and not also either placed in the public domain or licensed under some other, more permissive license. If I, as some Wikipedians have done, make a notice that all my edits to Wikipedia are in the public domain, then Wikipedia cannot prosecute anyone who uses them in any way, because there's no copyright to police. --Delirium 20:46, Jan 22, 2004 (UTC)
That is an effective way to opt out of the license, but the whole idea of licensing is that you are getting some (if at least minimal) control over your work. The GFDL license is really designed to give users something of a moral right over the work in countries like the US where such a moral right is not codified in the copyright law (except for visual artists). — Alex756 [ talk] 08:01, 28 Jan 2004 (UTC)~
Another way to do this is to have one legal person create the edit or release the image under GFDL or other GFDL-compatible license, then have a second legal person contribute it. The second person was never granted an agency authority and is therefore unable to grant the Wikipedia that agency authority. This is one of the approaches I would use for images, at least. For text whether I'd use it would depend on the extent of the edit, most probably. It's still a major pain to have to use such convoluted methods to do something which should be simple. The right ... to release your work exclusively under the GFDL ... is a limited grant of copyright to Wikipedia to redistribute your work only under the GFDL wording looks to me as though it's an attempt at a copyright assignment which requires contributors not to use any other license, instead of simply granting the Wikipedia a license. That wording would definitely prompt me to work hard to avoid such an assignment of copyright - it's a far greater compromise of my rights as author than a GFDL license. Jamesday 16:57, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Delirium covered it - I don't know what you were trying to address, Alex. If I grant you a CC-ShareAlike license, what would you say to me if I authorized the Wikipedia to take action against you for GFDL infringement of that same work? You aren't bound by the GFDL and it's my responsibility not to enter into agreements which contradict the one I've made with you.

See my comment on the copyright compliance opt out page.— Alex756 [ talk] 08:01, 28 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Consider what happens if we ask permission from a publication to use part of their work. If they upload it, they end up granting the Wikipedia authority to take GFDL enforcement action against anyone else they have licensed their work to. That's crazy - they have to be able to opt out of GFDL enforcement so that they can stick to their agreements with others. Otherwise they can't license things to the Wikipedia. Jamesday

No, this could never happen, all they would have to do is show you the license that grants them greater rights than the rights they received under the GFDL. In that case they are not infringing that license and the GFDL license that grants them a lesser right is covered by the greater right. Copyright is a bundle of rights and one can carve out specific pieces of that pie — there is however, only one pie. — Alex756 [ talk] 08:01, 28 Jan 2004 (UTC)
I think you missed my point there. It's clear that the recipient of the license has no license problem. What's not clear is whether the publisher wil grant the Wikipedia a license to harass their other licensees if the Wikipedia notices the same text as is in the Wikipedia. My personal reaction is to think "no way would I do that - it's not fair to my other licensees". Last time I encountered this, the person receiving the legal action was most displeased with the person who'd licensed them, a reaction not helped by it being another arm of the same company trying to do the enforcement. Jamesday 17:08, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)

If and when submissions standards change[edit]

In the mediawiki namespace text that appears at the bottom of every edit page directing users here should we not date when there was last any (substantial) changes were made to this page? Otherwise we could (theoretically) be sneaking in clauses that people are agreeing to without realizing. Course this is not likely to be a big deal in practice, but given that this is the area we are trying to get the legalistics right....Pete/Pcb21 (talk) 12:56, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)

A date sounds like a useful thing to add, even if it may not be legally necessary. Martin 21:29, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Most of these policies include a statement that it can be modified without notice to the user. I did not put that in because that seems a bit overreaching and it might not be enforceable (but maybe it is). Anyway the page history will indicate when changes are made, no? — Alex756 01:59, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Oh the Page History will sure. However I know that when edit page text changes to "see Wikipedia:Submission Standards" from DO NOT SUBMIT COPYRIGHTED WORK WITHOUT PERMISSION I will soon quickly learn to ignore the new boilerplate, particularly if it never changes. I would not ignore it so much if it said "see Wikipedia:Submissions Standards (last substantial change dd/mm/yy)". So, as Martin said, it might be useful even if it doesn't alter enforceability. The counter-argument is that more screen real estate is used for something only somewhat useful. Pete/Pcb21 (talk) 10:38, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)
If it is a protected page it will not change often and the bottom of the page will state when the last change was made. Do we really need more clutter? It is complex enough already. — Alex756 20:37, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Yes, it's necessary. Do we really want people to have to visit the edit history of all of the submission standards pages prior to saving any edit? That's what is required if there's no notice of change date. The potential for unnoticed changes always makes people uneasy and we need to avoid causing that uneasyness beause all contributions are voluntary. Jamesday 03:18, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)
I'm not sure adding a date at the bottom of every page is going to work. Because pages are cached for anons, they will see the date that was there the last time a page was cached, not the date this page was really changed. Angela. 03:26, Jan 26, 2004 (UTC)
The software should be invalidating/purging and updating all cached pages when the page is changed. It's a bug if it doesn't. Even if it doesn't, though, the page will eventually get flushed from cache even for anons and trying to give good notice beats not. Jamesday 04:55, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Less legalese-y summary required at top of page?[edit]

I think such a thing would be helpful. Remember that this page may be the first a new editor sees. We don't want to scare the heck out of him. Pete/Pcb21 (talk) 12:56, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)


This document is a legal contract, and as such should probably be protected, as we have protected the local copy of the GFDL. Thoughts?
James F. (talk) 13:01, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)

It can be protected when it goes live, which hopefully won't be for a while yet. Martin 21:29, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Until it goes live (with protection), I'll add a notice saying that it's not live yet. Otherwise, we might have a temporary mistake here that endangers Wikipedia, and if somebody says "But I read that version, and it says that I can do this!", then we could get trouble. -- Toby Bartels 00:43, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)


Most of these agreements have notes that if a section of the agreement is deemed to be not legally enforceable, then it is stricken out, and the remainder of the terms are still in effect. Should this agreement have such a clause? Martin 21:29, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Sure, that is called a severability clause, feel free to add it. — Alex756 02:03, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I've gone ahead and added some general terms, including the severability clause and a procedure for making changes. — Alex756 02:38, 20 Jan 2004 (UTC)


I'm not seeing the benefit of asserting penalty of perjury. What would this mean in practical terms? Martin 21:38, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)

That people are less likely to lie. You sign documents like this all the time. If Wikipedia is going to act as a copyright compliance agent then those who are working on that should be assured that the person who submitted materials is telling the truth, no? After all, under the DMCA such an agent has to state more or less the same thing. — Alex756 02:02, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Your changed language is fine Martin, an affirmation is sufficient and the layout is definitely improved. Some people gets scared by that word perjury, they are not as bold as someone like Bill Clinton. — Alex756 04:06, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Thanks Alex. :) Martin 18:39, 20 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Uninvited comments[edit]

Hi, Alex, I think the submission standards are a good thing overall and applaud your work on them.

I do have some concerns, however.

First, we should MeatBall:AvoidIllusion and realize that something like this is not particularly compelling in a court of law. It's not a negotiated contract, and there's no quid pro quo. These are tough issues and there is really no way around them. There are also practical jurisdicitonal issues with contributors in, say, Belize, that make any sort of rational application difficult.

Second, I wonder what the real benefits are to Wikipedia in asking contributors to indemnify Wikipedia. It could end up costing a lot of money for someone if there is a (possibly groundless) suit, since they would be expected to defend Wikimedia at their expense. That is a lot to ask, and as with any indemnity clause it potentially removes Wikimedia's incentive to settle the matter simply and cheaply. That may scare contributors away. And it doesn't help Wikimedia much since there is no practical resources aginst most contributors because they are either outside the U.S. or do not have insurance or financial resources.

Third, I don't think the arbitration committee (of which I am a member) is qualified to arbitrate contract disputes. It was set up to resolve article disputes and has sort of been broadened to handle user behavior disputes. None of us are members of the American Arbitration Board (or whatever it's called). None of us, AFAIK, are licensed to practice law. As such, trying to arbitrate contract disputes is a) out of our league, and b) brings an unwanted liability burden to us.

My thoughts. IANAL, TINALO, etc. Yours, UninvitedCompany 23:49, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)

  1. There is already a contract between volunteer editors and Wikipedia, this is just to clarify it in one document in one place so it is clearer.
  2. If it is a groundless suit it will probably be dismissed. The only thing one is really indemnifying is their behaviour on Wikipedia, thus if they do something wrong they will have to help out Wikipedia if Wikipedia has to spend legal fees to defend their behavior.
  3. Once again, the arbitration committee is dealing with contract disputes. Everyone who is making a contributor is a member of the informal meta:Association of Wikipedians and an association is formed as a contract (it is not the same as the Wikimedia legal entity). Wikipedia is a community of people that are connected by a contractual bond, that bond is the collective community's willingness to create an online collaborative encyclopedia and the policies that we have here are an expression of that willingness. What the arbitration committee is doing is an extension of that bond between us all and what defines its limits. We are surrounded by contract law, that is the law of our realm. That is how community democracy works, by consent, but it does not mean all members must consent to everything, you join our club, you are subject to our rules. Is that clear? — Alex756 02:11, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)

A privacy policy[edit]

I don't think we have one of these do we? Might the launch of this page into the big time be the time to introduce one? In particular it might be nice to state somewhere that wikimedia reserves the right for a wikimedia developer (or in the future, a sysop?) to do a username to IP address look up for the purposes of tracing possible sock puppetry etc. Pete/Pcb21 (talk) 23:58, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)

There is a privacy policy (at least a draft). I think you will find it here meta:draft privacy policy. It is another thing that should be linked at least to the main page (it does not really have to be linked to every page, does it mav?) I guess we can also put a link to it in the list of Wikipedia policies that people agree to.— Alex756 02:15, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Darn that meta! :-) I wasn't aware of that page. I'll go catch up with any debate that's being going on over there about content and link placing of such a policy. Thanks Alex. Pete/Pcb21 (talk) 10:38, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Reverting to previous versions[edit]

I'm not sure if this is here yet, but the heading names suggest no; so I'll ask.

The idea of "retiring" old versions to archive status looks like a pretty good one; it means that we don't have to worry about copyright infringements in the history (at least not unless and until somebody specifically requests us to remove them). But when they're mentioned again at the end, it sounds like I might not be able to revert to a previous version! I'll explain:

  1. A writes a nice article.
  2. B deletes some of A's material (an edit war, a mistake, a disagreement that is later resolved, vandalism, ...).
  3. C (not A!) wishes to revert back to A's version -- either directly, or by copying at least some of what A wrote.

Since Wikimedia -- probably, nobody -- is publishing A's version, does that mean that it's not available under the GNU FDL? Does that mean that C can't actually do this reversion without A's permission? Sure, A almost certainly would give permission -- but it could be a real pain to have to ask!

It's not clear to me what this archival theory says about this, but it seems as if the answers are technically "Yes, it does mean just that!".

-- Toby Bartels 00:24, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I had a discussion with Brian Viber about this a while back on one of the mailing lists. I think there is a position that says, (1) once released into GFDL, always in GFDL and (2) once something is in the archives the preferred version to use is the present version, not previous versions. This basically discourages edit wars, vandalism, etc. and encourages people to add material and not delete material, i.e. it is not saying you cannot revert to a previous version if there is an edit war or vandalism. Putting in the notice about the archives protects Wikipedia because if there infringing materials in the archives, we can point to this notice as informing people that those materials are retired. However, if someone wants to use a previous GFDL version they can, but it is not being encouraged. That may not seem clear, it is a difficult issue, but this is trying to find a compromise to encourage Wikipedia to grow and to make sure that most people link to or copy the live version and dealing with the thorny issues as discussed at Wikipedia:copyright violations on history pages. — Alex756 02:25, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)
The GFDL is pretty clear on this. The license it grants is perpetual and irrevocable, so for us to "quit publishing" something is without meaning. To do so while still making it available in archives and to deny others the right to copy it pursuant to the GFDL, is something the GFDL expressly forbids. UninvitedCompany

It is not without meaning. It does not state that one cannot copy it. And to quit publishing something is very significant; it happens all the time off the internet. If you publish a book under GFDL then people can only copy it if they have a copy of that book, they cannot publish drafts that you are not distributing. The wiki is not quite like books because wikis allows for multiple versioning and continual re-editing; one could argue that this is one reason that the GFDL is an inappropriate licencing tool for collaborative wiki-based knowledge base such as Wikipedia. There is nothing in the GFDL that states that a text cannot have current versions on the internet even if prior versions are available in the archives for archival purposes. This text is putting people on notice that not everything in history pages has been released under the GFDL because it is in violation of some law such as copyright law. If one has the option to use two texts and we are stating a preference to use the most current that is not in violation of the GFDL, it is just stating that user should use the current version. How does that violate the GFDL? Why would we want to encourage people to use materials that are old, out of date or incorrect or are not NPOV, if there is no current version that is being "published" vs. versions that have been retired from publication then there is little point in trying to improve articles, no? There is an argument that one cannot unilaterially remove a prior contribution of an author (as you cannot do this in Berne countries that actually comply with the moral rights provisions of Berne unlike the un-Berne US legislation that somehow continues to exist) and this is another reason that current versions take precedence over GFDL versions. Not everything in the GFDL is necessarily enforceable anyway, it remains untested; it would not suprise me if parts of it could be struck down as being unenforceable and even irrelevant, so why not protect all the Wikipedia contributors to make sure that the most complete versions are continually distributed rather than out of date, poorly edited stuff? — Alex756 03:20, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I've reworked the first paragraph of the archive notice section with these objectives:

  • Avoid the word "publish" to avoid suggesting that the Wikipedia publishes anything, to avoid arguments over whether the Wikipedia does. The CDA clearly says it doesn't and it's clearer if we don't write in ways which suggest that it does, if only because we won't have to explain it to people who don't understand the difference.
  • Avoid suggesting that older versions are no longer available, to avoid the GFDL requirement and reverting agruments raised above.
  • Say that we may limit distribution of history to logged in contributors. We may want to at major release dates or may want to split the database into live and history versions, with the actual edit contents (but perhaps not the name of the contributor) available only in the history version. We've done this once already in an upgrade and the article table is very large, so we may eventually need to split that into old and recent forks, even though there are some technical changes happening which should reduce this issue. It seems conceivable that it may help with the archive argument also, particularly if we were to split out the really far back edits at major release dates?

Does anyone have any thoughts on the merits or otherwise of this edit? Jamesday 01:32, 22 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Generally good change James, thanks. The only thing I really don't understand is "You accept that the Wikipedia may limit distribution of prior versions to logged in contributors or may split portions of history into live and inactive or old versions." This is not really the way it is now and I think we can just take this out the rest of your changes simplify it but still get across the essense of what I was trying to get at. The page history really does document the collaborative process, it is just that current edits should be considered live and the history should be considered "archives". — Alex756 04:51, 22 Jan 2004 (UTC)

re that sentence, feel free to remove it if you wish. However, please consider how to address the following questions without that sentence:

  1. What do we have to distribute with a paper wikipedia or on CD? Do we need the whole history of all edits so we can give full credit to each contributor for their edits, as a strict reading of the GFDL may require? On the development side, there's work on compressing history but even so, we don't want to have to distribute it all and we should provide for some way not to do so, at least when it comes down to the contents of individual edits, if not the names of all of the authors.
  2. Is the archive argument stronger if login is required to get to the archive? I think yes, but is it sufficiently stronger to merit this sentence?
  3. We do limit distribution of some older revisions already - the whole edit history of some contributions prior to a software update some time ago seems not to be available. We may need to do the same again, or may want to if the database grows too large. Large queries are one of the causes of performance issues and it's good technically to provide for the ability to archive the oldes history entries in an offline database, or in one apart from the main live database. Jamesday 04:20, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Choice of Law section is very confusing[edit]

The Choice of Law section says that the contract is under the laws of the state of California, yet any legal action must take place in Florida. How is this possible? Presumably the Florida courts cannot enforce California state law. --Delirium 06:52, Jan 19, 2004 (UTC)

Choice of law and forum are two different things. The laws of the state of California is used because that is where the server is and there is a lot of case law dealing with the internet that is done in California, thus California law is a good choice of law as one can figure out what the implications of California law are; there are much fewers companies and disputes in Florida dealing with the internet, also the 9th District Court of Appeals is there and has a lot of expertise because of the "entertainment" industry. Thus California law is more "predictable" to know what You can agree to have a particular law apply to your contract no matter where you are, except anything that might be illegal in the country where you want the contract enforced will be disallowed. Thus, you can have the Swiss Civil Code apply to your contract even though it is between parties in Hong Kong if that is what the parties know the best. The courts in Florida can enforce a contract that has law from other states, that is done routinely in the US; here in Brooklyn the county law library has law books and treatises for all fifty states, and the case law, statutes and treatises are all available online throughout the United States so most lawyers and judges have no problem with this approach, we also have treatises that show the difference between the laws of different states. Coourts in the US can also enforce contracts with law from other countries, that is less routine but legally allowable as well. This occurs in most countries. The Florida "choice of venue" provision is to make it easier for the foundation. We don't want people suing Wikimedia all over the world, do we? This is really to keep the costs to the foundation down to a minimum. — Alex756 20:06, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Alright, that sounds reasonable then. I just wasn't aware that state courts were willing to enforce the state law of other states. --Delirium 21:36, Jan 19, 2004 (UTC)

Actually practically all disputes will be resolved by arbitration (this may not be the same arbitration as the arbitration committee, if the dispute does not have to do with some edit someone makes) so the only thing that will actually get to court is the decision of the arbitration and that will be in the court local to Jimbo in St. Petersburg Florida (hope Jimbo has no plans on moving to Alabama!) so the only time Wikimedia will ever go to court is if some former user is out there trying to overturn their arbitration agreement and they show up on Jimbo's home turf and want to argue about it in front of a judge. — Alex756 02:19, 20 Jan 2004 (UTC)

An allegedly Kindler, Gentler, Nearly Palatable Submission Standards Page[edit]


You must obey these rules when submitting any material to Wikipedia"

1.Submit text that you are willing to release under the GNU FDL. You retain the copyright, but by releasing it under the GFDL allow anyone who fulfills certain requirements to copy, use, or modify it. You must be a legally competent adult to make this release.
2. Submit only lawful words, as unlawful words might cause serious consequences both to yourself and Wikipedia

3. If Wikipedia incurs legal expenses because of your contribution, it will try to recover them by suing you.
4. The text you write may be edited or deleted: Wikipedia has no obligation to retain it.
5. If you add fair use material you must note clearly that it is being submitted as fair use and you must give your own analysis of the four factors that make such a contribution a non-infringing addition to any article (see e.g., how to document fair use). Your page or any submission you make may be deleted if it violates any of the Submission Standards or other policies that are later developed on Wikipedia.
6. Wikipedia considers the current version of an article as the Wikipedia proper, and the historical pages as archives. Both the Wikipedia and its archives are released under the GDFL
7. Disobeying these rules may result in loss of your ability to edit or write for Wikipedia, at Wikipedia's sole discretion.
8. Wikipedia will act to ensure compliance with the GDFL.

This is a protected page which means that changes to it will only be made if they are done by a systems operator (sysop). Any proposed changes to this text should be made on the Wikipedia:mailing lists and posted on the talk page here. After discussion such change will be made to this text, an additional twenty days will pass until such change takes effect, in any case any changes to these terms shall not take effect until they are posted a minimum of thirty days; during the second period additional discussion may take place on the mailing lists and the board of directors of Wikimedia Foundation Inc., may then revoke any changes as they see fit. See the page history for details on when changes are made. It is the user's responsibility to check this page for changes.

a proposal for a less hostile and less objectionable page -- Binky 11:04, 22 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I am not sure it is less hostile. It is stating that Wikipedia will sue you. That is very hostile. Stating that Wikipedia can seek indemnification is much less hostile. Please state in detail what is "hostile" about stating that Wikipedia is an archive under § 107 of Title 17. This helps protect Wikipedia. What is also hostile about preventing people from sueing Wikipedia anywhere in the world. This is much more hostile it is giving any contributor the right to bring a lawsuit against Wikipedia anywhere in the world. Very hostile! I note that these terms are a contract as it states: "You must obey these rules", in other words you are bound by these rules. Also this is much more authoritarian than the other standards. Also why is it "hostile" to tell children who do not have the right to consent that there materials may be removed by their parents. What is hostile about that? Quite frankly I think this so called "kinder, gentler" version of the Submission Standards is more hostile that the version that is trying to help people understand what there relationship to Wikipedia is, if you read between the lines this is much more condescending and allows people to be hostile to Wikipedia (by suing Wikipedia) and Wikipedia to be hostile to them (by sueing them). Allowing Wikipedia to be a copyright compliance agent protects all Wikipedians, this text tells them that disobeying "Wikipedia" can result in a loss of your ability to edit or write" at "Wikipedia's sole discretion". For a non-corporal internet site Wikipedia is very condescending, no? There is no "Wikipedia" with volition or power over anyone, Wikipedia is a community association and as all association the Wikipedia community has the right to come up with collective rules which are essentially part of the implicit contract of association between these people. What is so objectionable about that? — Alex756 02:48, 24 Jan 2004 (UTC)

What is most objectionable is the phrasing. The technique of hiding rules to which you want to assume agreement is objectionable. And the requirement of anything other than a GDFL release is objectionable. You should just make the Wikipedia a "members-only", "sign-in here" exclusive club, if your primary goal is to make (very hypothetical) lawsuits easier to defend rather than attract users. -- Binky 06:26, 24 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Actually I'm fine with the legalese text now with the addition of the "Summary" section at the top. I think that section needs a little editing, which I'll look at briefly later, but it's pretty much the right idea. Basically, 99% of users don't care about any of this and are just reasonable, honest, law-abiding users, so we'd like to make things as easy as possible for them. --Delirium 03:03, Jan 24, 2004 (UTC)
You know the requirements are bad when you need to rely on hiding them to make them palatable. And they are unpalatable. -- Binky 06:26, 24 Jan 2004 (UTC)

No one is hiding anything. That is the whole point — you even agree with 99% of the content of the proposed Submission Standards, you just find some language objectionable and want everyone to go running to court. What specifically is your problem? I see you have not responded to the substance of my comments Binky. And you state that somehow this text means that the submissions are not released under the GFDL. That is not true at all! Delirum has a good point, the summary is clear and that is what most people will read, just like most people have never really spent any time reading the GFDL or the US Constitution, the Bible, Koran or Baghavad Gita. Perhaps you just dislike the fact that practically all sites on the internet have "Terms of Use" of which this is just another variation... At least when they adopt some variation of this text then you will never be able to argue that you didn't read it and didn't know what it meant. Obviously you have participated in the debate and have, by posting your version, demonstrated that you understand the principles behind it. Once it is adopted and you stick around Binky, you will be bound by it too, no doubt. — Alex756 | [ talk] 06:56, 25 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Copyright compliance[edit] hereby irrevocably appoint Wikimedia Foundation Inc...

What does irrevocably buy us? I think we could work equally well with revocable appointments, given that we're allowing people to adopt it. Martin 00:22, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

If someone asks to revoke it, permission could be given. The problem with making it revokeable is the following scenario:
User:A finds that article Foo is being infringed by third party, User A did not contribute to Foo.
User:A writes letter to infringer of Foo as authorized by Wikipedia copyright compliance policy.
User:B, one of the principal authors of Foo revokes his authorization.
Third Party removes article.
Third Party later finds out the Wikipedia was not able to represent author because there was not agency.
Third Party sues Wikipedia for acting wrongfully.
At least if it is non-revokeable by the author then if they ask, "please revoke" and Wikipedia knows that no one is trying to make an infringement claim, then Wikipedia is protected.
Note that not everyone agrees that Wikipedia cannot make a claim as a co-author of the article (note that there is Wikipedia content on every page and there is a Wikipedia style and format that is exclusively collective so the permission may not be revokeable anyway, just want to put it in for sure. I'm adding it may be revoked by application to the Board of Trustees of Wikipedia. — Alex756 [ talk] 00:42, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Ahh, so it's largely a timing issue then? Interesting - that's quite difficult to get around. We're almost saying that someone's very first edit would have to be to opt-out of copyright, or else they have to apply to the Board... Surely there's a better way of doing this? Martin 00:57, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I think a one month auto-opt-out, from date of application, is sufficient for our needs. Martin 15:25, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Good job on the bullet point format for the Summary Martin. I put it before the TOC so that someone would see the summary first and not get lost in the TOC, otherwise I like what you did. — Alex756 [ talk] 00:42, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Thanks Alex. :) Martin 00:57, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)
I just changed the bullets to add two more categories on the list. Looks good. — Alex756 [ talk] 01:07, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

non-submission standards[edit]

There are some terms here that aren't really about submission. Perhaps they should be on a seperate page? IMO, this page should discuss what people are agreeing to by submitting to Wikipedia, and we should have another page indicating what people are agreeing to by using Wikipedia at all. Perhaps at Wikipedia:terms of use? Martin 01:01, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

We could just add that stuff to the Copyrights page, it is just stating some stuff that could be interpreted any way in the GFDL, i.e. using the most current versions of pages and the Title 17 Notice. I just hate to have yet another legal-ese page hanging around, I guess it could just appear on the main page, though if we have disclaimers, copyright and submission standards then also a terms of use makes sense, others have already suggested it elsewhere. — Alex756 [ talk] 01:07, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Forking off Terms of use clauses[edit]

I just drafted a Wikipedia:terms of use using materials from this page. I have not removed the stuff from this page yet. — Alex756 [ talk] 02:03, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)
I've just done so. Martin 16:06, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)

People should read that. It makes the sole recourse for any dispute with the Wikipedia an arbitration committee apointed exclusively BY the Wikipedia. The results of that are predictable - the Wikipedia will prevail every time, regardless of the merits. Jamesday 04:42, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Really, if an arbitration committee does not have a level of fairness it can be overturned by a court, so this would mean that the arbitrators have a high standard to make sure that they do their jobs well and not in a shoddy way. Also Jimbo has stated that the arbitration positions are to be elected (the committee is getting started with appointments to get some kind of structure but hopefully the elections for that committee will occur soon as the two members of the Board to be members reps must also be elected soon. With an elected committee we will have some power over arbitrators. If there decisions are unfair, throw them out! They will have to campaign on a platform of fairness, responsiveness, respect for user rights. Remember in most democracies judges are either appointed or elected, some think it is more democratic when they are appointed because they are specialists that must know the law, but others feel that elected judges are more answerable to the people and are less captured by special interests. I wouldn't mind a jury for certain kinds of cases, there is no reason that the Board of Trustees could not appoint a jury determination for certain kinds of arbitrations and there could be a random jury pool for that. Anyway, you don't get the right to chose the judges who rule your particular case they are always chosen randomly. — Alex756 [ talk] 07:01, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Say you take action against the Board for some reason. Do you really expect that the Board would choose arbitrators who would do anything other than cause the Board to prevail? If you do today, what about the possible dismal future situation if there's a malicious Board we're all trying to remove? I do agree that this arbitration agreement is not going to be binding, because of that inherent defect, regardless of what it says, but it's good to write agreements which aren't problematic on their face. Jamesday 22:04, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

There is no inherent defect with an arbitration clause, your scenarios indicate you do not know much about the enforcement of arbitration agreements. If there is such a scenario as you suggest it would probably be vacated. Anyway you do also not seem to realize that as Wikimedia is a not for profit corporation there are laws that must be followed if the board is incompetent. Also the Attorney General of the State of Florida has oversight over the organization. I doubt a court would hold that a member dispute such as that could not be brought before the court as these provisions are "public order" and policy provisions and they trump any agreement put into a contract. — Alex756 [ talk] 18:54, 1 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Preventing going propriety[edit]

One addition whcih seems prudent: The Wikipedia can't take enforcement action for infringement of any GFDL clause which it is not itself complying with. There are arguments that the Wikipedisa isn't fully complying with the authors credit terms and that leaves open the possibility of the Wikipedia using a GFDL enfrocement grant to take action against anyone who doesn't comply because the Wikipedia itself is not providing the information needed to comply. I don't think the current board would do this but control can change and we've seen such problems in other projects which seemed to be public then experienced a change of management to a group with the desire to lock things up. Jamesday 04:32, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I'm not sure this is really necessary. If Wikipedia is not providing the necessary information, and sues someone for a GFDL violation, wouldn't the person be able to use "well, Wikipedia itself wasn't providing the necessary information" as a defense against Wikipedia's suit? --Delirium 04:37, Jan 26, 2004 (UTC)

No, because the agreement makes the Wikipedia the agent of the contributor, to enforce all of their GFDL rights. It gets that ability regardless of whether it is itself compying whatever clause it's claiming the other party isn't complying with. If they are still alive and hear about it the contributors could try to all grant the other party licenses but that's very unlikely to be a successful effort. Better to provide for the situation in advance and make it impossible. Jamesday 04:47, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Hey Wikipedia could issue a takedown notice to itself as it is the agent of authors and the authors rights are not being respected. If Wikipedia does not comply Wikipedia requires that it takedown Wikipedia. Bam! Wikipedia has to remove Wikipedia content because it is not complying with the copyright license that it has licensed that content under. I think Wikipedia, in good faith, has to follow the rules of GFDL compliance. Why shouldn't it? — Alex756 [ talk] 07:08, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)
I expect that the Wikipedia would choose not to issue a takedown notice against itself. While I trust the current responsible people, it's imprudent not to provide for the possible acts of their possible successors. Now, as an individual contributor, I'll soon grant anyone who receives legal notices from the Wikipedia an agency permission to take action agaionst the Wikipedia if the Wikipedia doesn't itself comply with whatever it's saying they aren't complying with. That's a pretty nasty solution and one which would have to be adopted by a lot of contributors to be effective. But this is supposed to be open content and I'm committed to making sure that it stays that way, even through changes to proprietary control in some dismal future which we all hope won't happen. Contracts are binding, so all parties MUST make sure that they provide for bad outcomes as well as good ... and you surely know that providing for bad outcomes is often neglected by people who are happy to be making an agreement. I'm happy to try to provide for dealing with some of the bad possibilities, even while I hope and expect that we'll see only the good ones. Jamesday 21:56, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

The same reasons a third party might not comply: laziness, inconvenience. I think James's extra condition has some merit, especially given that we have no knowledge of how strictly a future court might interpret the GFDL. Martin 19:11, 26 Jan 2004 (UTC)

According to our article on OCILLA, a take-down notice requires "A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed". Since the GFDL grant to Wikipedia is a non-exclusive right, would I be correct in thinking that Wikimedia cannot issue takedown notices according to the OCILLA provisions? Martin 00:00, 27 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I know there are different interpretations of this but my opinion (for what it is worth) is the legal "term of art" "exclusive right" is a right to copy something. As it states in &sect 7.02 "only the owner of the copyright can authorize the copying of a protected work." This is what exclusive right means. It does not mean that only the original owner can seek compliance, if it did no one would ever license anything as the licensee would not be able to enforce their license independently of the licensor. This confusion about the word "exclusive" is what some people think is the reason that the FSF wants copyright assigned to them. I think the reason anyone wants copyright assigned to them is so they control it completely and no one else that shares the "exclusive right" can do anything. (there is nothing in the copyright act that speaks of a non-exclusive right"). They are exclusive as compared to those who do not have copyright, that is where the exclusivity comes in, not that you are the only one that owns the copyright to a work, those people share the exclusive right to the work. — Alex756 [ talk] 05:47, 28 Jan 2004 (UTC)

So, let me try to restate that to see if I understand. Your interpretation is that the "exclusive right" simply means copyrighted text as opposed to public domain text. Thus I still have an "exclusive right" even if I sublicense Wikipedia to use my content. Thus I can assign Wikipedia to enforce that right, and Wikipedia can enforce it. However, there are other interpretations of this passage. Martin 21:22, 1 Feb 2004 (UTC)~

In addition to the response from Alex, consider the difference between exclusive and non-exclusive rights: with an exclusive right, you know that any other user is potentially infringing, so it's fine to let you take legal action once you've eliminated things like fair use as possibilities. With a non-exclusive right, you don't, so you would have to take speculative action or all licensees would have the hassle of having to respond to "do you have a license" questions from all other licensees - you can imagine the chaos if every licensee of Microsoft Word tried that! The "exclusive" part prevents the second scenario. In effect, the agency grant is presuming that all contributors are licensing only under the terms of the GFDL and/or are only releasing their works here. Since the Wikimedia Foundation has a GFDL license and a GFDL license can't be exclusive, it's obvious that any GFDL infringement notice sent can't be from an exclusive rights holder and is going to be invalid... unless the Wikimedia Foundation can accompany it with a declaration that the work has only been released under the GFDL. In that case, the notice would be fine, since the non-GFDL use would be infringing the rights of the copyright holder, who hasn't licensed that use. But without that GFDL only declaration, it's fundamentally problematic IMO. Bascially, it seems to me that it's over-reaching to try to make life more convenient for those who want to enforce the GFDL in situations so insignificant that just asking the community to grant permission to take action won't work. For anything serious, getting that buy-in afer the fact won't be problematic, IMO - indeed for one case I offered to be the complaining party using the OCILLA article as the infringed work.:). Jamesday 11:29, 14 May 2004 (UTC)
Also I should point out that on Wikipedia since creation occurs collectively and there really is only the collective version that one could argue that an "associate" of Wikipedia has the authority to enforce the "exclusive right" that belongs to Wikipedians as a group (note that it does not belong to Wikimedia, but to the Association of Wikipedians and a duly authorized member of the Association can thus enforce the right. I think we arrive at an exclusive right under any interpretation of the world exclusive in that case. — Alex756 [ talk] 00:38, 4 Feb 2004 (UTC)
With all due respect, the works I contribute here are most definitely NOT intended by me to be inseparable parts of a whole work and the Wikimedia Foundation does NOT have rights to take action in respect of my contributions without my consent, except to the extent I've granted it a GFDL license or it wishes to use one of the other licenses I grant on my user page. Assuming for the sake of argument a position I strongly disagree with, that the work is intended to be only a joint work, the Wikimedia Foundation would have NO rights to the work - only the joint authors would have rights to it and the Wikimedia Foundation is most certainly NOT an author of any substantial part of this work, just as the mere fact of hosting at SourceForge does not make SourceForge a creator of the works hosted there. For those who don't know why this matters, if the work is a joint work, any contributor could license it under any terms - including non-GFDL terms - with no responsibility to any other contributors beyond accounting for (distributing) any profits obtained. It would in effect make a mockery of the GFDL license. Jamesday 11:29, 14 May 2004 (UTC)
That's not true though. Some Wikipedia content is not produced collectively, but is instead a GFDL-licensed reprint of previously-published work. The mass-importation of FOLDOC is one such example. --Delirium 02:32, Feb 4, 2004 (UTC)
Martin, the wording "you have granted to Wikipedia to release your work exclusively under the GFDL as this license is a limited grant of copyright to Wikipedia to redistribute your work only under the GFDL and thus Wikipedia may demand compliance with the GFDL license granted to Wikipedia or ask that the materials be removed under the these internet takedown provisions" appears to be an attempt at a copyright assignment which would grant the Wikipedia an exclusive right (and strip the author of their right to make non-GFDL license grants). If found to be valid it could create that exclusive right. It's an extremely unfriendly clause from the point of view of contributors. Jamesday 17:18, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)
That does seem very bad! I removed that section, and made an explicit note that the license grant is non-exclusive. The copyright enforcement clause should be sufficient for our needs, I'd have thought. Martin 18:28, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)
I removed a section:

Your indemnification of Wikipedia[edit]

In all cases if you submit anything you are responsible for the submission, not Wikipedia. Should there be any legal consequences you specifically agree that you indemnify and hold harmless Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation Inc., Bomis Inc. their officers, directors or agents, and the other volunteers of Wikipedia. Such indemnification includes costs and reasonable attorneys fees; you indemnify these entities and individuals from any claims, suits, causes of action in law or equity, judgments, levies, fines, whatsoever from the time of your first contribution to Wikipedia or any other Wikimedia project. Any individual making a submission to Wikipedia will not benefit from this indemnification vis-à-vis other contributors if their submissions are in violation of these standards.

Indemnification means that you will cover the costs and damages that may be levied against these entities or individuals for your conduct. This only seems fair as it is your conduct. Wikipedia and the other volunteers have no real control over your submissions. However, as long as your submissions are lawful you should have no worry that you will have any liability under this term of your agreement with this project.

While I don't completely object to the general idea of indemnification, this specific version seems unreasonable. I suggest we get a basic set of submission standards out quickly, and then add extra clauses as needed, rather than going for a "big bang" approach to the matter. Martin 14:36, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)
What is it you find unreasonable? I thought it was important to leave this in personally. Angela. 02:41, Mar 8, 2004 (UTC)
Well, suppose I contribute something that I subsequently discover is illegal in the US (accidents happen) - by this indemnification clause, I'm still liable, even if I edit Wikipedia to try to remove the infringinging content. I did think about ways to phrase this kind of a limitation, but I couldn't think of any off the top of my head. There are also Uninvited concerns above to consider. Martin

Creative commons[edit]

By contributing to Wikipedia, you agree that the Wikimedia Foundation may publish your submission, before or after being modified as described above, under one or more of:

Yeah, I figured that was a little controversial too... :) I removed it, since I added it. Martin 14:49, 21 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Section 4B[edit]

You agree to release Wikipedia and all sublicensees from section 4B of the GFDL.

Is there any point to this? All past contributors have submitted their text with the knowledge that they were doing so under the real GFDL, not some Wikipedia FDL. So how does enforcing this on new contributors change anything? Wouldn't users of our content still have to abide by section 4B for all articles edited before these submission standards go live? Angela. 02:31, Mar 8, 2004 (UTC)

I think it's valid to claim that, as Wikipedia is a wiki, and as Wikipedia has never really complied with section 4B, then direct Wikipedia contributors have implictly waived their rights under section 4B. Implicit licenses are of course overridden by explicit statements (IE, "I do not waive my rights under 4B"), but they don't seem common.
Also, note the proposed text "These submission standards apply to any and all contributions you make to Wikipedia irrespective of date or the then status of the terms and conditions of your submission" - if people continue to edit Wikipedia, accepting this agreement, then it is deemed to also apply to their past contributions, at least as written.
Finally, explicitly clarifying the situation for current and future contributors is, I believe, worthwhile in itself, so that we all know where we stand. Alternatively, if there is greater support amongst Wikipedians, we could explicitly state in the Submission Standards that submitting content to Wikipedia does not waive your 4B rights... but please, let's pick one or the other. Martin 18:11, 8 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I don't agree to waive any rights, and you can not claim that I have done so implicitly. I explicitly released my work under the terms of the GFDL, which do, of course, include section 4B. The fact that other people are not complying with this does not mean you can force me to give up these rights or to apply that retrospectively when these submission standards go live. Angela. 20:48, Mar 8, 2004 (UTC)
That's a slight topic-switch: you asked me whether a waiver would serve any purpose: I said that it would, and explained why, with an implicit license being part of my reasoning. Implicit licenses and implicit grants of permission aren't something unique to Wikipedia: it's a common enough practice.
Section 4B explicitly allows authors to release sublicensees from its requirements: it says do blah and blah, "... unless they release you from this requirement".
Now you are saying (I think) that you don't want to waive section 4B - a different subject. So I'm interested in asking, what are your reasons? Is it the Wikipedia section or the all sublicensees section?Martin 00:47, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)
The sublicensees part is more objectionable. Maybe those two could be split, allowing Wikipedia to move text around as it already does, without needing to allow third party users to drop the 4B requirement. Angela.
Anyway, I've removed this section. We can discuss re-adding it once version 1.0 is live. Martin 18:17, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I think I was confusing 4B and 4I above. I don't really care about 4B, but I still don't see a need for each user to agree to this. What does it solve when most of the previous authors of Wikipedia content have not agreed to it? It seems somewhat pointless, and likely to mislead redistributors. Angela. 04:15, 21 Jun 2004 (UTC)


What are the plans for implementing this. Will it be a clickthrough for all users? What about anonymous submitters? Will any advance warning be given? For those of us who decide not to agree, will we be able to participate anywhere on Wikipedia? The talk pages? Our user page? Will we still be allowed to have a watch list? Anthony DiPierro 02:48, 8 Mar 2004 (UTC)

A link to this meta page would replace/supplement the "All contributions to Wikipedia are released..." text. Is there anything in particular that you do not agree with, as it stands? Martin 18:11, 8 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I would also like to know what other users find objectionable here in comparison with Wikipedia:Submission Standards (a). Most of the stuff added was intended to try and to protect our foundation that some of us are donating our money to. Surely no one would want their funds going to fight cases that are the caused by fringe anonymous users. — Alex756 [ talk] 19:58, 8 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I don't see how you think this is protecting Wikimedia. How is making me give up my rights to enforce the GFDL against third party users of my content saving Wikimedia any money? Angela. 20:48, Mar 8, 2004 (UTC)
What I am speaking about is the indemnification term (notice that I mention "most of the stuff added" not "all" in my statement above). The term that you are mentioning Angela is partly just a codification of what is already the accepted practice on Wikipedia, i.e. volunteers sending out letters telling third parties that they have to comply with the GFDL. You are not "giving up [your]rights to enforce the GFDL" but allowing Wikipedia volunteers to try and get GFDL compliance, which is going on already, this just gives it some teeth so that they can use the OCILLA provisions of the U.S. Copyright Act if necessary. Some of us believe that Wikipedia already has that right, others feel that as Wikipedia is just a licensee (I do not agree with this view, I believe that there is an argument that there is collective Wikipedia copyright that we share and is enforceable by any one of us as against third parties) that Wikipedia cannot force GFDL compliance. BTW even if you do agree to these terms you can still seek GFDL compliance as it is a "non-exclusive" right, i.e. you still retain your rights to tell people if they don't take your copyrighted material off their web site that you will sue them. So in no case are you going to "give up my rights." — Alex756 [ talk] 23:48, 8 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Actually I have at least one problem with Wikipedia:Submission Standards (a) too. It won't keep me from contributing, though. I just don't plan on following it.

  • "If you do add fair use material you must note clearly that it is being submitted as fair use and you must give your own analysis of the four factors that make such a contribution a non-infringing addition to any article (see e.g., how to document fair use)."
    • That's ridiculous. I'm not about to do that. I'll note a source, but I'm not giving a detailed analysis of why it might be fair use.
This is what most sites that want copyright compliance ask of their users. Fair use is not something like copyright, fair use is use specific. If you just say that it is "fair use" that is meaningless unless you explain why. Otherwise you are infringing someone else's copyright and perhaps the material should be removed from Wikipedia as a copyright infringement.
I see the statement keep coming up that that's what "most sites" do. I don't care what most sites do. If I have to jump through hoops to submit content, I'm just not going to bother submitting the content in the first place. If I just say that it is "fair use" and someone disagrees, then let that person argue over it. If you want to remove it, remove it, that's your right. It seems this clause is based on copyright paranoia, and I'm absolutely not going to follow it. Anthony DiPierro 19:29, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)

As for this version:

1) "If someone uses your contributions on another site without complying with the GFDL, you authorise Wikimedia to take steps to make sure that such third parties comply."

  • Absolutely not.
So opt out. This is why we have an opt-out clause: we're aware that some contributors, like yourself, may not wish to grant this authorisation. Opt out, and don't concern yourself with the matter any further. Martin
The opt out doesn't even seem to apply to that part. But in any case, opt out doesn't take effect for one month. Anthony DiPierro 18:35, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)
This is what is already going on at Wikipedia. How are you going to stop people from doing that?
I might not be able to stop them, but I'm certainly not going to authorize them. I license my content under a number of licenses, GFDL is only one of them. Furthermore, Wikipedia itself isn't even in compliance with the GFDL yet. Requiring third parties to be in compliance is asking far too much. I care much less about certain aspects of the GFDL than many other Wikipedians. While I can't stop them from making threats, I can stop them from legally initiating action over copyrights I hold. Anthony DiPierro 19:35, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)

2) "You agree to release Wikipedia and all sublicensees from section 4B of the GFDL."

  • I would only agree to that if sublicensees (who weren't Wikipedians) were forced to agree to it.
Sadly, we can't force sublicensees to waive section 4B, as doing so would be imposing additional restrictions above the GFDL. We can only ask Wikipedia contributors to waive section 4B, so the content is at least moderately free on its point of departure from Wikipedia.
Given that, are you saying that you do not want to waive section 4B with regards to either Wikipedia, or Wikipedia's sublicensees? How come? Martin 09:54, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Anyway, I've removed the section. Martin
I'd waive section 4B with regard to Wikipedia if they waived it with regard to me. What I won't do is waive it for everyone without them in turn waiving it for me. The reason is that it isn't fair. I've licensed all my contributions under Sharealike 1.0. You don't have to credit me anywhere. But if you create a derivative without crediting me, then you have to give me the right to create a further derivative without crediting you. Anthony DiPierro 18:39, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)

3) "You hereby appoint Wikimedia Foundation Inc., or any of its duly authorized volunteers agents, to act as your copyright compliance officer..."

  • Nope.
Once again, you have already done that. You are allowing people to go to other sites (including your own) and making sure those sites comply with the GFDL. That is something Wikipedians have the right to do for each other. It is part of the contract of association between all the volunteers here and part of the nature of copyright on a wiki, otherwise every contributor would be faced with the daunting task of searching the internet constantly and when they found a non-compliant site they would have to alert all users to write to those infringers on each infringement. Doesn't that seem ridiculous?
I have not "already done that." People can check compliance, but that's not the same as acting as a copyright compliance officer. If it is, then why is this line necessary in the first place? Anthony DiPierro 18:42, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)

4) "You have not opted out of this clause or you applied to opt out of this clause less than one month ago."

  • I'm not going to wait a month. And I'm not going to opt out until this is adopted.
You could simply opt-out immediately prior to these standards being adopted. Martin 10:25, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I don't agree to this, so I'm not going to opt-out from a portion of it. Anthony DiPierro 18:42, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)

5) "This opt-out only covers edits you have made that are your own original work."

  • What about edits I make which are adapted from public domain sources?
You do not own public domain sources. Sorry, you cannot have more rights to something you copy than the work you copy, once in the public domain, always in the public domain; you cannot give something copyright because you copy it.
If you were to edit a public domain text on Wikipedia to adapt it, and those adaptations were copyrightable, and were your own original work, then they'd be covered by this opt-out. It's meant to clarify that you can't opt-out on behalf of anyone else. Martin 10:25, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)

6) "By using the Wikipedia site in any manner you are deemed to be aware of this agreement."

  • Not a big deal, but it's untrue.
Most sites have these deeming provisions. If you don't bother reading the agreement that is your problem; otherwise how is Wikipedia going to make sure you took the time to read it; if you don't take the time to read it then you are not bound by it? That is not fair to everyone else who is bound to it. The rationale behind this is that the link is available when you make an edit, if you click on it, well then you have a chance to read it, if you do not click on it, well then you didn't care to read it, but had the chance to do so; i.e. you don't seem to care what the Submission Standards are, so why shouldn't you been deemed to have read it?
Most sites are not free encyclopedias. If the rationale is for when you make an edit, then it should say "By making an edit," not "By using the Wikipedia site in any manner." Anthony DiPierro 18:50, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)

7) "After such discussion such change will be made to this text, an additional twenty days will pass until such change takes effect"

  • What if I don't agree to the change? Once again, do I have to give up all access to Wikipedia? Just edits?
As the Wikipedia:Terms of use are related to the submission standards it would appear that you cannot use Wikipedia to any more extent than allowed under the GFDL.
The GFDL contains none of these restrictions. I don't see how it's applicable at all. Anthony DiPierro 18:50, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)

The key problems are 1) and 4). 5) and 7) just need to be clarified. And 6) is just stupid. Anthony DiPierro 20:34, 8 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I think the comment about 6 being "just stupid" is not a constructive comment. In fact it shows that the author of this comment is ignorant of the pratices that are commonly accepted in many contractual situations such as shrink wrap licenses. Obviously this individual (or individuals) is/are unaware of how contracts are made or enforced. This is not a basic course in contract law. — Alex756 [ talk] 23:48, 8 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I understand the practices of shrink-wrap licenses. Lots of completely unenforcible clauses are added to them just to scare people into compliance. I just think they're stupid. Obviously whoever wrote the sentence "By using the Wikipedia site in any manner you are deemed to be aware of this agreement." knows nothing about contract law. Shrink wrap licenses are rarely enforcible. This sentence is not enforcible. That's why I don't have a problem with it, I just think it's retarded. Anthony DiPierro 18:50, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)

How much does the above poster know about contract law and the enforceability of contracts? Contracts in most jurisdictions are interpreted by the reasonable understanding and acts of the parties; not the actual subjective intent of the parties which is the case in most civil law jurisdictions such as France or Puerto Rico. Perhaps the above individual lives in civilian jurisdiction; the US is mostly common law and the law applicable here. Regarding shrink-wrap licenses they are generally enforceable: See ProCD v. Zeidenberg 86 F.3d 1447 (7th Cir., 1996) and Hill v. Gateway 2000, Inc. 105 F.3d 1147 (7th Cir., 1997) cert denied, 522 U.S. 808 (1997). In ProCD the court stated: "[s]hrinkwrap licenses are enforceable unless their terms are objectionable on grounds applicable to contracts in general (for example, if they violate a rule of positive law, or if they are unconscionable)." (at 1449). The Courts of New York, a pre-eminent commercial jurisdiction has also held that a shrink-wrap license is enforceable, Brower v. Gateway 2000, In.c 246 A.D.2d 246, 676 N.Y.S.2d 569 (N.Y. App. Div., 1998).

Also, I do not think that a string of words can be "retarded." This is an improper use of language. A sentence can be incorrect: it cannot be retarded. The meaning of the word retarded as an adjective is: "retarded": adj : relatively slow in mental or emotional or physical evelopment; "providing a secure and sometimes happy life for the retarded" [ant: precocious] (Source: WordNet ® 1.6, © 1997 Princeton University). The word "retarded" is often seen as an offensive expletive. I can only think that the word "retarded" as used above is really a comment meant to illicit a negative response (see definition of trolling), n'est pas? — Alex756 [ talk] 22:22, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)

As of this moment, my only major issue with agreeing to this is issue 4), the one month waiting period for opt-out. I have lots of other issues, in that I don't think Wikipedia should be given this power by default in the first place, but that's not an issue with whether or not I would personally agree to this. Anthony DiPierro 19:43, 13 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Images as aggregation[edit]

cf [2].

Since Jimbo has made this "official", to some degree, at some point we should make accepting this interpretation part of the submission standards, which will allow us to be rather more confident that redistributors can use it, and increase our safeguards against users who disagree with it demanding that all their text be removed. However, as this is likely to be controversial, it's something for a later version, I expect. Martin 13:01, 19 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I want an edit button on all my contracts![edit]

Wow, that was fun. Talk about relative bargaining power. I wish all contracts had an edit button. I made a series of changes, some technical, some for clarity, and some for fairness. Perhaps the most significant was to the "notification" section. It is unfair to expect users to regularly check the page history, and to threaten them with implicit agreement to arbitrary conditions if they do not. Changes should be announced, and should not be binding unless they are. -- Tim Starling 15:28, Jun 21, 2004 (UTC)


These submission standards apply to any and all contributions you make to Wikipedia irrespective of date or the then status of the terms and conditions of your submission.

This is problematic. According to this, it seems that if I one day log in and the submission standards have been modified, they are automatically applied to all contributions I have ever made. Considering that I am considered bound to this agreement merely by reading Wikipedia, and that I have no way to terminate the agreement, this is completely unacceptable.

This needs to be removed, better notification of a change (and more importantly, notification of the initial institution of the standards) needs to be incorporated, and there needs to be a way to refuse or terminate the agreement.

anthony (see warning)

You can't terminate the entire thing, because the GFDL can't be retracted. I believe that you're bound not by reading, but by editing (reading is the wikipedia:terms of use). Tim has edited to give better notification - is this sufficient? Martin 23:56, 27 Jun 2004 (UTC)